Empty calls for UNRWA to be “dismantled” simply aren’t enough

In November, 2005, our agency published an essay in the New York Jewish Week and produced a film about why UNRWA should be dismantled and replaced by UNHCR, the umbrella agency which resettle refugees, instead of perpetuating their indignity as refugees.

A few days after the publication and film production, we made an audio visual presentation “UNHCR INSTEAD OF UNRWA” to a packed UN Press Club in New York and shared the concept with UN officials. There was not one diplomat or journalist who did not like the idea. .

And then reality hit. Veterans at the UN pointed out that any change in the UNRWA mandate would require approval of the UNGA, the United Nations General Assembly.

Even if 30 or 40 nations would vote to change the UN mandate, the Arab League and the automatic majority of “non-aligned nations” would vote down any decision perceived as pro-Israel.

Therefore, UNRWA cannot be “dismantled.”

The best answer, then, to address the indiscretions of UNRWA is for the donor nation to demand that UNRWA make the following reforms — and to condition all future financial support on whether or not these reforms are enacted.

  1. Demand an audit of donor funds that have been given to UNRWA. This would expose the widespread problems of corruption and wasteful spending at UNRWA — and uncover any financial links between the organization and Hamas.
  1. Demand that UN organizations work to permanently resettle Palestinian refugees, and end the false myth of a Palestinian “right of return” to Arab villages that existed before 1948.
  1. Remove any part of the UNRWA curriculum that supports or justifies terrorism, jihad, martyrdom and the “right of return” by force of arms.
  1. End all paramilitary training in UNRWA schools. How can UNRWA, as a UN agency, promote peace if it allows violence to be taught to Palestinian children?
  1. Insist that UNRWA fire all employees affiliated with Hamas, in accordance with laws on the books in all Western nations that outlaw funding to international agencies that employ members of a terrorist organization.
  1. Demand that UNRWA cancel its contract with its “youth ambassador” — Mohammad Assaf — who openly promotes the murder of Jews and Israelis.

UNRWA, in its current form, is a clear impediment to peace. Israel and the West must now act within reality to curb UNRWA policy, and to reform the organization.

About the Author
David Bedein, who grew up in Philadelphia and moved to Israel in 1970 at the age of 20, is an MSW community organizer by profession and an expereinced investigative journalist. In 1987 he established the Israel Resource News Agency, with offices at the Beit Agron Int’l Press Center in Jerusalem, where he also serves as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research. In 1991, Bedein was the special CNN middle east radio correspondent. Since 2001, Bedein has contributed features to the newspaper Makor Rishon. In 2006, Bedein became the foreign correspondent for the Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. He is the author of " The Genesis of the Palestinian Authority" and "ROADBLOCK TO PEACE- How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict: UNRWA policies reconsidered"and the director and producer of the numerous short films about UNRWA policy which can be located at: